The Neighboring Islands of Venice

If you look at a map of the city of Venice, you will observe that it isn’t a single island. The body of land that the city rests upon is comprised of 118 tiny islands, connected by bridges. And the larger municipality of Venice contains hundreds more tiny islands. These surrounding islands are easily accessible by ferry, vaporetto, or boat tour, and many of them are well worth exploring.


The Lido di Venezia is a long sand bar that protects the lagoon of Venice from the Adriatic Sea. It has long been the luxury playground of Venice, with resorts, beaches, and a golf course, and it is home to the sparkling Venice Film Festival. It is the only island in Venice that allows the use of automobiles, and has a public bus that runs the length of the island. Near the north end of the island are golden public beaches that draw visitors away from the heart of the city to relax in the mild water. For a more contemporary take on Venice, it is worth visiting the Lido, to rent a bike and explore, pamper yourself on a beach, or get some excitement in the casino.


It’s worth the vaporetto trip to Burano just to see the wonderful colors of the houses. This island is famous for them, as well as for their ancient lace-making techniques that are still kept alive today. Although the island is densely populated, it has a serene pace of life, fresh-caught fish in the cafes, a leaning bell tower, and beautifully colored flowers and gardens against the backdrop of vibrantly colored houses.


For centuries, the Venetian island of Murano has been renowned for its blown glass creations, from jewelry to tableware to sculptures. Visits here often include a tour of one of its fascinating glass factories, demonstrations of how it’s done—and of course, a visit to at least one of the affiliated showrooms and shops. 

Isola di San Michele

Having a waterlogged city creates the rather interesting problem of what to do with your dead. Many of the great figures in Venetian history are interred in the city’s cathedrals and churches, but most find themselves on Isola St. Michele, the isle of the dead. Just a short vaporetto ride from Cannaregio, this island is devoted to a cemetery and small chapel. It’s a fascinating look into the history of Venice, with memorials to those lost in war, and is the resting place of Igor Stravinsky, Ezra Pound, Joseph Brodsky, and many more. It’s a peaceful, park-like location, and an interesting insight into the past and present of Venice.


Torcello is the oldest inhabited island in the Venetian Lagoon, said to be the original settlement from which the city was founded. First inhabited in 452, this once-important trade and political center was devastated by the Black Death, and the local malaria-carrying mosquitoes drove people to leave the island for more hospitable locations. By the 1800s, it was all but abandoned, and today only a small handful of people live there. However, the Cathedral of Santa Maria Assunta still stands, founded in 639, and still has its Byzantine mosaics. Ancient churches and palazzos still remain, and it’s an interesting look into the origins and history of the region.

Sant’Erasmo Island

This island was once a military outpost, but is today mainly the source of vegetables for the tables of Venice. In addition to the old church and fort, it is a site for summer pleasure activities, including the beach, watersports, and an annual boat race. Known as “the Garden of Venice” Sant’Erasmo is a pleasant place to go for a relaxing walk away from the bustle of the city.

The hundreds of islands that surround Venice each have a history and a deep connection to the city. While many of them aren’t open to visitors or can only be reached by private boat, most of them are just a short vaporetto ride away from the city, and are part of the larger life, history, and culture of Venice.


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